By Deepthi K
Shaivism is a tradition followed by the followers of Lord Shiva. The followers of this tradition or faith are called Shaivites and they form a major part of the Hindu community. This tradition developed as an incorporation of various pre-Vedic traditions and religions that originated from the Shaiva Siddantha philosophies and traditions.
Here are some interesting information about Shaivism.
History and Origins
The exact roots of Shaivism is not known. However, research shows that excavations done at the sites of the Indus Valley Civilization have revealed seals with figures that resemble Shiva. For example, the Pasupathi seal resembles a person meditating and surrounded by animals with horns. This leads to the conclusion that Shaivism must have existed even back then. It is also said that the tradition was first followed in the southern state of Tamil Nadu from where it spread to various parts of the country.
Shaivites not only worship Shiva and focus on its importance, they also practise raja yoga meticulously whenever they can. This kind of yoga is believed to help a person gain control over emotions and the fickle mind. It is believed that Raj yoga helps one achieves peace, bliss, serenity and a state of calmness. There are references to this yoga in Amanaska, a Shaiva text on yoga.
Development of Dance and Music
Hindus consider Lord Shiva as the god of dance and performing arts such as music. In this context, Shaivism has had a wide impact on these art forms. Shaivism has been instrumental in developing Hindu music and dance to a large extent.
One of the most commonly chanted mantras by followers of Shaivism is Om Namo Shivaya. The Mahamrityunjaya mantra, Rudra mantra, Shiva Gayatri mantra and Shiva Dhyan mantra are some of the other mantras recited by Shaivites with full devotion. Chanting each mantra has its own benefits.
Presence Outside India
Today, Shaivism has made its presence outside India. There are a few other countries where Shaivism is practised with full fervour and people consider Lord Shiva as their key deity. For example, there are many Shaivites in the neighbouring countries of Sri Lanka and Nepal although Buddhism is the most predominant religion there. Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia are some other countries that have embraced this tradition as well.
According to Shaivism, there are four ways to receive Lord Shiva’s blessings. The first approach is Shravanam, which means hearing or listening to stories of Shiva as well as reading books and participating in discussions about him. The second method is Kirtanam that involves singing songs in praise of the lord. This is the simplest of the four ways and can be done alone or as a group.
Mananam or the third method entails reciting Shiva mantras or chalisa and meditating on the lord. The final approach called Nidhidhyasanam focuses on worshipping him with or without form. When he is worshipped with form or as saguna, Shiva is worshipped as a statue or an image representing himself alone or with his consort, and even as a Shivaling. When he is worshipped as nirguna or without form, he is worshipped as Brahman, the Highest Truth, one who is beyond time and senses.
Shaivism is the second largest tradition followed in the country. It is easy to please Shiva. There are various shrines across India that are dedicated to him where he is worshipped. One of the most famous Shiva temples in India are at Amarnath, Kedarnath, Kashi, Kailashnath, Somnath, Brihadeshwara, Tarakeshwar, Chidambram, and Lingraj.
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